Zaire: Statement on U.S. Policy, 3/29/97

Zaire: Statement on U.S. Policy, 3/29/97

Zaire: Statement on U.S. Policy
Date Distributed (ymd): 970329
Document reposted by APIC

The following "Statement on U.S. Policy toward the Crisis in Zaire," was prepared at a meeting hosted by Salih Booker of the African Studies Program of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Council on Foreign Relations does not take positions on issues, and all participants at the meeting were there in their individual capacity. The statement is currently being circulated for organizational and individual endorsements, and will be presented at a press conference on Tuesday, April 1. The statement has been endorsed by Imani Countess, Executive Director of the Africa Policy Information Center and the Washington Office on Africa. A list of endorsers will be made available later.

To submit an endorsement or for more information, please be in contact directly with Salih Booker or Marilyn Gayton, African Studies Program, Council on Foreign Relations, 2400 N St. NW, Washington, DC 20037; Tel: 202-862-7793; Fax: 202-862-7786; E-mail:


Cover letter from Salih Booker

March 28, 1997

Dear Colleague:

I invite you to review the attached statement on U.S. policy in response to the crisis in Zaire and to consider lending your support and your signature to this statement which calls for a new U.S. policy approach.

At an emergency meeting organized by the Africa Studies Program, on March 26th, a diverse group of Africanists, foreign policy analysts, and representatives of human rights, development, humanitarian, and church organizations produced the attached statement on U.S. policy toward Zaire. We are currently seeking additional signatories to help develop public debate on the matter.

We have become alarmed by the Administration=s failure to recognize and act upon the important opportunity that now exists to help democratic forces in Zaire shape a transition out of the current crisis and accelerate the departure from power of Zaire=s ailing dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. A failure to act more assertively now will only invite deterioration of the current conflict into a far more dangerous and destructive war, destabilizing much of central Africa. The United States also has an important historical responsibility in Zaire and a moral obligation to play a positive leadership role in support of a democratic solution.

We are organizing a press conference in Washington to release this statement early next week.

Please add your support to this urgent effort.


Salih Booker

(Note: We will continue to collect signatures beyond the press conference.)



The government of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire has systematically violated the rights and undermined the security of Zaire's 46 million citizens. The Mobutu regime has proven itself unwilling and unable to honestly negotiate a peaceful resolution to the country's long-standing political and humanitarian crises. It, therefore, does not have legitimacy to act on behalf of Zairians today.

The U.S. -- working with concerned African nations and others in the international community -- should immediately take steps to support a negotiated transition. This transition should be founded upon the creation of a legitimate, representative and inclusive, transitional government of national unity that can create the indispensable environment needed to prepare the ground for truly democratic elections, as well as to meet the full humanitarian assistance requirements in Zaire.

Such a broad-based transitional government of national unity would require the predominant participation of the ADFL, the Sacred Union, and all other political forces which are opposed to the Mobutu regime and committed to a democratic Zaire, as well as representatives of civil society. [ADFL is the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo Zaire; the Sacred Union is the Union SacrJe de l'Opposition Radicale et AlliJs-USORAL (Sacred Union of the Radical Opposition and Allies).] hese participants could decide to include those elements of the current regime who are prepared to support truly democratic change.

Establishing such a legitimate transitional authority is the key to creating a democratic political process and meeting humanitarian needs. Achieving this objective should receive the highest priority because it is the indispensable precondition for realizing all other objectives including most of those enumerated in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1097. The UN resolution proposes a peace plan for solving the crisis (i.e. ending the fighting, withdrawal of foreign forces, recognition of the country's territorial integrity, the electoral process, and the convening of an international conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region).

While the success of the rebellion in Zaire provides a long-awaited opportunity to end the bankrupt Mobutu dictatorship, there is great danger that further militarization will exacerbate divisions among anti-Mobutu forces and make democracy less likely. In addition, prolonged fighting will raise the already large toll of lives lost and could even lead to a "scorched earth" destruction of Kinshasa. The U.S. has been a major supporter of Mobutu's Government over the decades. For the past seven years Washington has failed to develop an effective strategy to achieve its stated goal of democratization. Today we need to go beyond the current ineffectual policy of words and principles to actively engage with African and other governments in finding a non-violent democratic solution that removes not only Mobutu but Mobutuist tyranny from Zaire. Given Zaire's enormous needs for economic and political reconstruction, the international community has significant leverage, but it needs to be used now. The U.S. should be prepared to commit significant resources toward the reconstruction of Zaire. Such support, however, should be contingent upon the creation of a truly democratic transition process, leading to the creation of a truly democratic Zaire.

Finally, the U.S. should also address immediate humanitarian requirements in Zaire by securing the cooperation of all parties concerned in meeting such needs.


Response form

To:Salih Booker
Council on Foreign Relations


[ ] I agree to become a signator of the attached statement.

List my name and affiliation as follows:

Organization for identification purposes only? [ ] YES [ ] NO

[ ] I do NOT wish to be a signator of the attached statement.

Please indicate any other activities you and/or your organization will be able to undertake in the coming weeks.

Please indicate your email address below.


From: Message-Id: <> Date: Sat, 29 Mar 1997 10:19:16 -0500 Subject: Zaire: Statement on U.S. Policy

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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